Clause 11 — Housing costs
Bill Presented — European Convention on Human Rights (Temporary Withdrawal) Bill
Chris Grayling (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative)
The approach we are taking across all our reforms is that if somebody in a household is of working age, we expect them to work. All our efforts and the support we are putting in place are designed to ensure that people work and that households benefit from an income from employment rather than otherwise.
As I said, the amendments would cost £100 million. They are not modest amendments, as suggested in the other place. In fact, Lord Best, who proposed them, believed that they might cost even more—£150 million a year. Either way, it would significantly reduce the estimated annual savings of £500 million. We simply do not have a blank cheque that will cover the costs of the amendments.
To give their lordships credit, there was at least some acknowledgement in the other place that £100 million is “serious money.” I am glad we can agree on that point; the amendments are certainly not modest. It is incumbent on us to do what we can to drive down the spiralling cost of housing benefit. Left unchecked, expenditure on housing benefit would reach £26 billion by 2014-15. The shadow Secretary of State is always complaining about the cost of housing benefit, yet he and his party have been consistently hostile to measures that bring the cost under control.